Ovarian cancer month


You may be aware that March is ovarian cancer awareness month, but very possibly not, which is important as in the Surrey and Sussex areas women are being diagnosed at a much later stage of ovarian cancer compared with the national figures (27% at stage 1-2 compared to 33% nationally). Late-stage diagnosis very much reduces the chances of survival, as with all cancers. (Source: NHS Cancer data 2014-2018)

Sussex NHS Commissioners are asking our readers’ help to raise awareness of the disease and especially of the key symptoms, enabling women in our region to be diagnosed and treated before their disease has spread.

The poster above, developed by local charity GRACE, which has joined forces with the Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance (SSCA) to raise awareness, gives a clear picture of the symptoms you need to know about, and there are other useful websites you can use, with this particular one having the key facts and figures about ovarian cancer.

Common symptoms include:

  • Persistent abdominal pain, bloating or swelling
  • Loss of appetite, difficulty eating and feeling full more quickly
  • A change in bladder habits not explained by lifestyle or dietary changes

If YouTube is your social media of choice, watch Target Ovarian Cancer’s symptoms video.

Training opportunities are also being made available for GPs and clinical commissioning groups, with a one-hour training course and a webinar on early diagnosis of ovarian cancer for GPs available from Gateway C and Target Ovarian Cancer also has a training module.

Simon Butler Manuel, SSCA primary care lead and a GP partner at Mid Sussex Healthcare says: “Unfortunately, women may confuse these symptoms with other health problems like irritable bowel syndrome or the menopause or simply ignore the changes in their bodies. I would urge all women with persistent problems to contact their GP as soon as possible.”

Source: Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance

Image Credits: Grace Charity .

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  1. I was originally diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May 2012. I had a full hysterectomy at Brighton hospital followed by 6 rounds of chemotherapy. I still remember the wonderful feeling of getting my ‘all clear’ in January 2013. I didn’t have the usual symptoms. I remember not being able to lay on my tummy because it was uncomfortable and, by the time I plucked up the courage to see the doctor, I could feel and see a large lump in where my left ovary was. The tumour was nearly 10” in diameter and my notes stated I looked to be 24 weeks pregnant! So, even if you dont have any of the usual signs but do have anything that isn’t your ‘normal’ please, please do not hesitate.
    Unfortunately since then my cancer has returned. Although the cells are still ovarian I have lost a kidney and part of my bladder. Sadly this is because after my ‘all clear’ I wasn’t asked to go back for CT scans which would have picked it up long before it had caused such problems. At that time it wasn’t ‘policy’. It is rare for the cancer to return and being positive throughout is the key. Don’t ignore anything that is different, after all, us girls know our bodies, get it checked.

  2. Thank you for this informative article and for sharing your story Zena which will hopefully encourage others to seek advice. I also understand there are some screening test available to.


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